Today’s entry - On back of last week’s FCC Robocall ruling and conversation, I received this note addressing robocalls.
AT&T Call Protect does two things:
- Identifies telemarketers and puts this into the caller ID during an incoming call.
- Identifies numbers known to be fraud threats and automatically blocks them.
You always get a call log showing which numbers were automatically blocked. It also allows you to customize which numbers you want to block and let through. The most interesting thing about the way they block calls is that they do it at the network level, meaning the caller just hears "fast busy tone" like a non-working number, whether your phone is turned on or off.
Bottom Line: First, last week’s FCC ruling regarding robocalls allowed carriers to stop what they believe to be robocalls at the carrier level. That means that should AT&T, for example, decide to implement the newfound ability at the carrier level, you would essentially have this service as an automatic feature without having to opt into it as you currently do. As you point out, the service is generally well received. For example, the app has a 4.6 rating among Apple uses in the app store. The bigger problem can be what is stopped from being received.
The concern regarding the new authorization for carriers to act at their level is that they block competitive, legitimate numbers from going through. How hard would it be for a carrier to engage in anti-competitive practices only to suggest they would block legit numbers in error? That’s first and foremost. The second is that all carrier detection's for robocalls aren’t created equal.
About two years ago a study was conducted by the firm Lionbridge to determine which carriers were most effective at identifying robocalls/scam calls. It showed that what is accurately detected by the carriers considerably varies. In their study were the accuracy rates by carrier in detecting fraud/scam/robocalls:
Rating out of 100:
- 91% T-Mobile
- 65% Verizon
- 51% Sprint
- 25% AT&T
Ironically, AT&T has been terrible at stopping calls from getting to you prior to the new ruling. That’s likely the reason why the Call Protect service has rated well according to its users. So much garbage gets through their network that any improvement is likely to be noticed and appreciated by users. You can see the vast difference in the quality of the existing monitoring by service providers. While we wait to see what the service providers do with their newfound ability to further restrict calls that get through on their networks, you can clearly see that your network of choice matters when it comes to fraud/scam/robocalls.
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Photo by: Getty Images/Tero Vesalainen